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Burkinabe Soldiers Arrested for 'Plotting Against' Ruling Junta

FILE — Capt. Ibrahim Traore, Burkina Faso's interim president, leaves the ceremony for the 35th anniversary of Thomas Sankara's assassination, in Ouagadougou, Oct.15, 2022.

OUAGADOUGOU — Burkina Faso’s military prosecutor Friday said three soldiers were arrested and charged with plotting against the ruling junta.

A statement released by Burkina Faso's strongman Cpt. Ibrahim Traore said investigators received a tipoff last month about "soldiers and former soldiers working in intelligence" who were scouting out homes and other locations used by key figures in the military government.

Their goal was to "destabilize … the transition," added Traore's statement, in reference to a term used to describe military rule ahead of the promised elections.

Investigations by the West African nation's junta led to the arrest of three soldiers that were detained by an examining magistrate.

Maj. Alphonse Zorma, Burkina Faso's military prosecutor said the arrested soldiers faced several charges, among them involvement in a "military plot, breach of military orders, plotting against state security, criminal association and endangerment."

The three were named as Warrant Officer Windinmalegde Kabore; Sgt. Brice Ismael Ramde; and former corporal Sami Dah, who had previously been convicted in a plot against the state in 2015.

"(They) unequivocally admitted the facts," said Maj. Zorma.

Burkina Faso is one of Africa's most turbulent countries, enjoying few periods of stability since gaining independence from France in 1960 as the Republic of Upper Volta.

Last year, it experienced two coups that were fueled by anger within the military over the toll from a long-running jihadist insurgency.

Traore took power on September 30, 2022, at the age of 34, making him the world's youngest leader outside of royalty.

The 34-year-old leader toppled Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who little more than eight months earlier had ousted elected president, Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

Shortly after Traore's takeover, military prosecutors in December said there had been an attempt to "destabilize state institutions."

Those behind it, they said, were civilians and a lieutenant-colonel named Emmanuel Zoungrana.

Over 16,000 civilians, troops and police in Burkina Faso have died since jihadists in neighboring Mali launched their campaign in 2015, according to an NGO monitor called the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, ACLED.

More than two million people have been forced to flee their homes, creating one of Africa's worst internal displacement crises.

Traore has promised a return to democracy with presidential elections by July 2024